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January 16, 2017

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UN: Asia’s e-waste rising fast

ELECTRONIC waste is rising sharply across Asia as higher incomes allow hundreds of millions of people to buy smartphones and other gadgets, with serious consequences for human health and the environment, according to a UN study released yesterday.

So-called e-waste in Asia has jumped 63 percent in five years, the report by the United Nations University said, as it warned of a need for most nations across the region to improve recycling and disposal methods.

“For many countries that already lack infrastructure for environmentally sound e-waste management, the increasing volumes are a cause for concern,” said Ruediger Kuehr, the report’s co-author and head of the UN University’s Sustainable Cycles Program.

The report said that in recent years, Asia has rapidly emerged as a major source of electronic waste, due to increasingly affluent consumers buying phones, tablets, refrigerators, personal computers and televisions.

China more than doubled its generation of e-waste between 2010 and 2015, the period of the study, the report said.

Per capita the worst-offending economy in the region was Hong Kong, with each person generating an average of 21.7 kilograms of e-waste in 2015.

Singapore and Taiwan were also big e-waste dumpers, with just over 19 kilograms per person generated in 2015.

Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines were among the lowest e-waste generators with an average of 1 kilogram for each person, the study said.

Improper and illegal e-waste dumping means higher exposure to extremely toxic chemicals, leading to severe health and environment consequences.



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